ARL Angels Foster Program

Program Testimonials

Read the Stories

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The Angels

ARL Angels Logo_FINALThe Animal Rescue League of Berks County is proud to announce the expansion and rebranding of its foster program to include dogs of all ages as well as cats! The program, formerly known as “Grey Muzzle” is now “ARL Angels!” But don’t worry senior animal lovers – you’ll still see plenty of grey muzzle animals in our program!

The ARL is known for its unique foster program which places senior and special needs dogs into foster homes and now the same knowledge and experience that has made that program so successful will be used to build a bigger, more inclusive program.  Moving more animals into foster homes is great for the animals, but it also frees up kennel space and in turn, saves more lives. Since it’s inception in 2010, our foster program has saved more than 1,200 lives!

Click here to learn how to become an ARL Angel by making a recurring donation.

How does it work?

  1. Fill out a foster application
  2. Meet with our foster coordinator, Tori Williams
  3. Join our Facebook Group
  4. When an animal becomes available for foster, we will post it on our Facebook Group.  If you have an approved application and are interested in the animal, let us know! No Facebook, no problem! We’ll give you a call if we think we have a match for you.
  5. If fostering a dog: bring your dog in for a meet and greet and if all goes well, the foster dog goes home with you.
  6. Give your foster pet tons of love!
  7. Attend at least one event a month (or, as many as you can!) with your foster so it can meet potential adopters.
  8. Bring your foster to the shelter for meet and greets with potential adopters. (Don’t worry – we’ll work with you to schedule meet and greets that work for you.)
  9. Once everyone is happy with a match, send your foster off with love into it’s forever home and start the process all over again!

What kind of animals are available for foster?

  • Dogs: They could be especially young, especially old, or any age but showing signs of anxiety or stress in their kennel. They could also be special needs dogs: deaf, blind, awaiting surgery, etc.  They could simply be a long-time resident that could benefit from a change of scenery.
  • They could be big, they could be small.  YOU help us decide what will work for you!
  • Cats: Especially seniors and kittens! We often receive kittens too young for adoption that need care until they are 8 weeks of age.

What’s the Fine Print?

  • The ARL pays for any needed vet care, spay/neuter surgery, rabies vaccines and a microchip
  • The ARL can provide you with food, bedding and toys if you need them.
  • The ARL may do a home visit and will check vet references to ensure that the pet is going into a good environment.
  • If you have one or more dogs, they must come to the shelter to meet a foster dog to ensure that they will get along.
  • Your pets must be up-to-date on vaccines and have current licenses.
  • Foster homes must have their own transportation
  • Foster homes must commit to providing the pet with proper care and adequate exercise.
  • Foster homes must bring the pet to the shelter when necessary to meet potential adopters (we’ll work with you to find a time that works!)

You can mail, fax, or stop in the shelter to drop off your application. Upon review, you will have a one-on-one interview with our foster coordinator to ensure your home and circumstances are appropriate for fostering.

Thank you for considering being a foster parent. If you have any more questions, please email  or call (610) 373-8830 extension 117 to speak with the Foster Coordinator, Tori Williams.

Thanks for helping and loving the homeless animals of Berks County.

Program Testimonials

“Thanks to the FosterVinnie Program I have Little Vinnie the Chihuahua who lives the good life of a spoiled little lap dog with his sister Vida the Chi.” – Stephanie Szczepkowski

“I can’t say enough about ARL and the Foster Program! Our relationship with this great group of passionate people began when we we’re looking to adopt a senior dog for my mother after the death of my father in February 2011. We worked with 2 members of the ARL Board and were introduced to a darling Yorkie Terrier named Savannah Grace. She melted our hearts as well as my mother’s! ARL and their team of amazing volunteers had rescued “Savvy” in a parking lot; she had a number of serious issues which we’re completely handled by these loving volunteers.  To see their passion to rescue and bring Savvy back to health was so heartwarming……something we really needed at this time in our lives. Long story short, we wound up keeping Savvy for ourselves (after she stole our hearts!) and then adopted another dog, Scooter from the ARL Foster Program for mother! We LOVE ARL and everything  the organization does for this community!” -Karen Marsdale

Foster Adoption Stories

Do you have a  story to share?  Email it to us!

Podcasts: Lambie’s Story Cha-Cha’s Story

Dixie, Beaulah & Taz

Dixie“I want to thank you for the most amazing grey muzzles I could have ever asked for. If it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t have met my three “kiddos.” As for my two coonhounds: First one to come into my life was my Miss Dixie May. I always wanted a coonhound since I was a young girl. The one day in the past three years I decided to go venture to the ARL, I laid my eyes on a sad Black and Tan in the first third kennel. She howled and looked at me with such sad eyes, I couldn’t just leave her there. The next three days were hard to wait for until the meet and greet. My parent’s dogs took to “Lexee” right away. I knew it was meant to be. Her name was changed to Dixie as soon as I signed the papers. The first year was rough, Dixie had a heat stroke, secures, and cancer. We went through the fights together and eventually conquered it all. My boyfriend and I decided to buy our own home and to complete our family we wanted two more dogs. I received a message from you saying the ARL had a Bluetick Coonhound.  I asked Kody and we took the opportunity as soon as possible. Beulah came into our lives and she weighed 98lbs. Due to a heavy workout program and many medications to get over her yeast infection, she is an astonishing 63lbs. Dixie and Beulah hit it off immediately and became best friends. They spent hours playing in the yard and chasing the chickens around so I could catch them. They both have their own chair to lay on and let me tell you it must be comfortable because snoring is mandatory.  The last dog to complete our big happy family was a male Boston Terrier. I messaged you to give an update on the two princesses and say to keep an eye out for a Boston. To my surprise you had gotten one in just recently, the first Boston in the past couple years. I took up the offer and had Beulah and Dixie meet Taz. Beulah was a bit jealous and wasn’t sure of Taz. We adopted him at the spot and just like that they loved each other. Playing was part of all threes normal routine. Its now January and I have to say I am by far the luckiest woman alive. Kody and I couldn’t explain our appreciation to the ARL for giving us Dixie, 7, Beulah, 11, and Taz, 9. God bless the ARL for their program.. If I could say anything else about my dogs, it would be, older dogs are by far the best company anyone could ask for. And yes, they can be retrained despite what people may think. I leave all three off a leash to play in my unfenced yard and no matter what they stay by my side. They are the most loyal, loving, and caring animals anyone could ask for!” – Kelsie Burkhart & Kody Boltz

Princess Jazmine

“We adopted Princess Jazmine from your  program in March, 2013.  She is a great girl, and we have come to love her more and more each day!  For a 8 or 9 year old “grey muzzle” dog she has a great deal of energy, and we discovered she loves the snow.  She has good manners – most of the time – and greets everyone with enthusiasm.  We can’t thank you enough for all the work you do – I love having an older furkid and I hope she loves being here!”  -Susan Rhoad


Lambie with Santa 2013Listen to Theresa tell her story  “Where I live, pets aren’t allowed. Having chronic mobility problems for years, I was also chronically depressed and medication wasn’t doing much good. My doctor recommended I get a companion animal. With a note from my doctor, I eventually was approved by the apartment complex to get a dog. The doctor felt I needed a reason to get out of bed in the morning, get dressed, and go for a walk, no matter how much it hurt. I went to the Animal Rescue League and I didn’t find a dog I felt would be a good fit. My criteria was: Dog had to be small with a laid back temperament, good with children (since my granddaughter visits often) a few years old and out of the chewing stage, housebroken, fixed, not yappy , and most of all, a dog that was least likely to trigger an allergic reaction in my granddaughter. I knew it would be a tough list to fill and didn’t get my hopes up. But then I was told about Lambie, who was in foster care. He was 4 years old and fit ALL of the “wants” on my list. Working with the ARL was a wonderful experience. Lambie did have some health problems when I first got him and he needed to be hospitalized for a while. That was 6 months ago, and now Lambie is the picture of health and happiness. He was only 7 pounds when I got him and he is now 11 pounds. Most of my neighbors are seniors and they have fallen in love with him. I am never at a loss for a dog sitter when I want to leave the house for more than a few hours. Lambie was a stray and I don’t know about his past but I do know that he has a forever home here with me.” – Theresa K. Hardy


Zippy“I didn’t intend to adopt another dog, but I brought my 16-year-old Tara (17 on December 4th) to the Senior Dog Soiree in May to meet other senior dogs, and there he was.  I talked a lot to his foster mom, mostly due to huddling together against the rain, and saw how loving he was.  So I adopted him!

It was one of the best decisions of my life.  I was depressed and unemployed when I got him, and we went for lots of long walks.  He got me out of the house, made me exercise, and made me meet people, from seniors to children, and I loved it.  He is a huge hit wherever he goes.  My vet adores him.  Children love him (and he loves them, nearly as much as he loves chasing balls).  Lots of people ask if he is a puppy.  🙂  Only when I tell them he is eight do they notice the grey around his muzzle.

The first time he brought me his leash I was astounded.  I thought dogs only did that in commercials!  He sleeps under the covers, too.  He is a very snuggly and sweet boy, and I am so glad he is with me.”  – Barbara


Snaggles in his new bed“Snaggles is an awesome cat that we adopted on August 13, 2013.  He is nine years old, but full of energy.  Our 18 year old cat, Sammy, passed away on August 12th. With Snaggles we did not have to grieve.  This kitty filled our home with activity and joy.  My husband and I believe in adopting older cats.  We saw Snaggles and fell in love with him. 

He likes to play with his parrot feather, his birds on a wand, and ribbons.  He has trained us to have 3 or 4 play periods per day.  He loves to eat.  He is crafty and tries to get outside.  When he made it (only 1 time) he had a smug look.  I am amazed at the activity level of this cat.  

He monitors the night from the back of the sofa.  He enjoys the sun in our kitchen by day.  He responds to “puss” and runs to me so I can brush him. He likes to eat when we eat,  races around our home and follows me from room to room.  He does not want to be alone.  

We are there for him and will care for him.  He brings such love to our home.  We smile at his antics and give him extra hugs.” -Dr. Sandy Becker


Pearl 2“We have always had at least one senior dog in our pack . They bring balance and a special wisdom that comes with being an senior dog. They are pure joy.

We had lost our oldest Rottie girl a few months earlier and were ready to add a new addition to the family. I started looking on Petfinder for a senior Rottie female and there she was-an 11 years young “Grey Muzzle” Rottie at the Animal Rescue League. Her guardian had passed away and Pearl found herself at the ARL. Fortunately, the wonderful people running the Foster Program saw not just an old dog- and 11 is old for a Rottie-but a regal lady with a lot of love to share.  I wish that all shelters  and prospective adopters would see the potential that senior dogs possess as they are all to often passed up for the cute puppy or younger dog.

We contacted  the ARL and made arrangements for a meet and greet at the shelter.  Pearl had been placed in an amazing foster home. We got to meet her foster Dad , Kyle. He opened up his home and heart  and helped her on the journey to us.  We brought one of our dogs to meet Pearl and the visit went great. Based on the meeting , we knew our two boys would be fine with Pearl. A week later , we brought Pearl home and the rest is history. We were able to integrate her into the pack within hours. She loves to play and has fallen madly in love with the boys. She is very alert and loves to spend time with us. She also lets the younger female know in no uncertain terms that one is not to take her toys.  This is another great aspect of senior dogs-they can help teach the younger ones appropriate dog etiquette .

We are so grateful to the ARL and its foster program. We encourage all prospective adopters to give an older dog a chance-they will not let you down and in the process make you a better person.”


The ARL Angels

The following donors have committed to donating a minimum of $25/month to the ARL Angels Foster Program.  You can become an Angel by clicking here.